Google Buzz: The Search Giant's Attempt at a Facebook-Killer

By Smriti Rao | February 10, 2010 1:25 pm

buzz-dayFor folks who already spend most of their time updating Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts, here is one more site to add to the mix. None other than Google has decided to jump into the social networking fray by launching Google Buzz–a social networking tool that is also integrated with email and mobile phones.

Buzz can be accessed through any Gmail account and lets users share updates, photos, links, or anything else with their Gmail contacts. Bloggers have likened it to Twitter, except that it dwells within your Gmail. Google has already rolled out Buzz to some journalists, and Gmail users can expect to see it within their inboxes over the next couple of days.

The Buzz tab will be located right below your inbox tab. To get someone started with Buzz, Gmail is expected to pull info about the user’s contacts to create a list of people who the user frequently emails and instant messages with. This list becomes the blueprint for the people the user “follows.” The user can then “buzz” them, sharing pictures and links. When a user posts to Google Buzz, he can share publicly to followers and his Google profile, or privately to his existing Gmail groups or custom groups. Notifications of shares and comments will appear in a user’s inbox with a special Buzz icon next to those items. Comments will appear in real time [ReadWriteWeb].

It may seem that Google is late to the social networking party–and indeed, it may be tough to convince Facebook’s 350 million active users to switch to a new platform. But Google Buzz does have one edge, in that it aims to be the easiest, most functional social networking tool for smart phones. If you log onto Google Buzz on your smart phone, the company will find you via your GPS, translate that from lat-long coordinates into English, “I’m outside Waldorf-Astoria,” and use that for all sorts of services. Your friends can now see where you are and hook up for a chance meeting…. If you’re looking for a good nearby restaurant, Google Buzz will let you scan all the public posts about establishments in your area [The Big Money].

There is a downside to this utility. Since Buzz will garner so many details about a user’s movements, some worry that our entire lives will be in Google’s database, making us active targets for advertisers. And with Buzz’s deep-embedded real-time tap on your life and both passive and pushed advertising, alongside its arch-rival Apple’s extensive plans for location-aware ads, the upshot is that there may not be a moment in your day when you’re not sharing deeply-personal data with Google, and having personalized ads thrust upon you [Fast Company].

It’s also worth noting that Facebook, the current ruler of the social networking universe, won’t just be standing by and watching Google tempt away its users. Facebook is reportedly working on a “Gmail-killer” tool of its own. Facebook is completely rewriting their messaging product and is preparing to launch a fully featured webmail product in its place, according to a source with knowledge of the product. Internally it’s known as Project Titan [TechCrunch].

To get a sense of how Buzz works, take a look at this demo video.

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Image: Google

  • Kat

    If Google can actually get me an ad that makes sense rather than those maddening “Are you 26? You can buy shoes!”- Ads that facebook has, I’ll be ok with it.

  • nick

    Google Buzz also shows up in Google Reader. I think they’re trying to turn their network inside out.

    Privacy is a joke. What you do in your own home is fairly private (depending on how closed your curtains are and/or how nosy your neighbors or other interested parties may be), but other than that forget it. Anyone you’ve done business with might have a copy of your credit card data. Your cellphone company knows roughly where you are when you have your phone. Big companies store your purchase data (I know costco at the very least does) and video surveil you while you shop. And with technologies like Vitamin D, they can cook that video data down to interesting bits and dump the rest, then someone really *will* be watching you if the Vit D thinks you’re interesting.

    Just be glad you can have your web data set to ‘friends only,’ but you gotta make sure you enable that because Facebook, twitter and the like broadcast your biz-niz to *every* one by default.

    @kat – ever since my birthday I’ve been getting ads for “male X years old needed for police” and “male x years old qualifies for free apple ipad” and “males age X in yourstate now elegible for cheaper insurance thanks to new laws.” That last one is so dumb and laughable because laws have nothing to do with how much you pay for your car insurance, just that you must have it.

  • Steve Bartlett

    I’ve had Facebook for about a year, and the ads constantly make me laugh. I would guess that about 99.9% of them are blatant frauds (“make money typing for Google” is my favourite), and the rest are just irrelevant. Fortunately there’s an easily-available .css file you can load into your browser that completely eliminates Facebook ads. Just Google it. I wonder if it would work on their site as well?

  • Jay Fox

    No cell phone, no credit cards. No social accounts anywhere. Pay cash for everything. I know they’re still watching me, somehow, at least through my computer surfing, but I try to make “them” work for whatever they glean. Does it matter that I don’t get ads for something “People like me enjoy?” No! There are no people like me.

  • Dave

    New site, AdBook.


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